By Deb Cale
Each day as I browse through media, I am flooded with promises that a new fitness craze will immediately whip me into the best shape of my life. Although this concept is tempting, I know there is no quick fix.
A parallel temptation presents itself in my professional life. I receive claims from sales representatives that if I buy certain materials or programs, student scores will instantly increase. Sounds tempting, but again, there are no quick fixes.
How can we get our teaching practices in shape? Fisher and Frey’s FIT Teaching (Framework for Intentional and Targeted Teaching™) provides educators with the framework needed to do the right work in the classroom to support student learning and growth.
Four Training Tips to Get Your Classroom “FIT”
Build and sustain a strong school and classroom culture: Creating a positive climate and culture are the foundational elements to any successful system. In order to build and sustain that culture, it is important that you involve each key player within the system to not only embrace the mission, but also nurture the processes that are needed to succeed. It is crucial to have open and transparent conversations among all staff, as well as students, in order to achieve continuous school improvement. It is essential that the belief system be evident and a part of the daily interactions and routines at the district, building, and classroom levels.
Trim distractions and establish a clear and meaningful purpose for learning: Teachers do not have the luxury to rely on the hope that students will learn what we teach them. We must provide a clear purpose to inform the learners what they will be learning, why they are learning it, and how they will use that new learning, but also to inform ourselves how to effectively use instructional time. Quality purpose statements are the starting point for quality instruction. As you create purpose statements, work to make them clear, concise, meaningful, and visible so that students can perform and achieve at high levels.
Bulk up instructional practices by using the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR): The GRR instructional framework reinforces that teachers cannot continuously carry the heavy load of teaching and learning all to themselves. This model relinquishes you from constantly assuming that load by slowly releasing the cognitive responsibility to the students so they assume more ownership of their learning. This is a recursive model, so you have professional freedom to determine where you begin and end. However, each component has a unique purpose and all are essential for the learning process.
Increase instructional flexibility with a quality formative assessment system: Formative assessment alone cannot improve student performance. It must be accompanied by teacher responses in how students can improve in their learning. The need for a clear purpose again becomes evident so that tight alignment exists between the formative assessment and the purpose for learning. As you check for student understanding, the feedback you provide should be timely, specific, understandable, and actionable, but the feedback shouldn’t stop there. Think about where students need to go next so they can move forward and continue to assume responsibility for their leaning. I find nothing more frustrating than when I receive vague feedback with no direction in how to move forward. Let’s be cautious not to cause that frustration for our students.
FIT Teaching™ has been crafted so that district and building administrators and classroom teachers alike can embrace and immediately apply these four components. FIT Teaching will provide all educators with a cohesive teaching and learning framework that is intentional and targeted at improving student learning.
Editor’s Note: Join Fisher and Frey for a three-day intensive academy that will help you implement high-quality teaching and learning in your school or district. The ASCD Summer Academy is based on the FIT Teaching (Framework for Intentional and Targeted Teaching™) tool kit, composed of the works of Fisher and Frey.